OAKLAND – Kaiser Permanente has increased the number of its mental health therapists by nearly half or 497 therapists. The nation’s largest integrated health plan and health care provider hopes to add another 350 by the end of 2015.
The addition of the mental health professionals is aimed at making finding care easier and reducing the stigma associated with seeking care.
The additions come at a time when there is an overall shortage of mental health therapists leading to difficulties for patients in finding mental health treatment.
Overall, Kaiser Permanente has added 411 therapists since 2011 and an additional 86 by partnering with community-based therapists.
The company also plans to spend more that $115 million to remodel 76 of its existing mental health facilities.
“With the number of Americans seeking mental health care steadily rising, our nation is at risk of not having enough therapists to meet patients’ needs,” Pat Courneya, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Kaiser Permanente said in a press release. “Kaiser Permanente is taking steps to ensure our members have access to the mental health care they need. As one of the largest mental health care providers in California, we are working to attract the best mental health care professionals who want to make a difference by working together with other clinicians in an integrated health care environment, to address our patients’ total health needs.”